By Scott Taylor
Trent Alexander-Arnold scored twice as Liverpool U18s thrashed ten-man Manchester United 4-0 at the AON Training Complex on Saturday morning. Captain Alexander-Arnold started off the rout in the 26th minute before summer signing Paulinho grabbed his first goal for Neil Critchley’s side shortly after half-time. Corey Whelan then made it 3-0 after Man Utd goalkeeper Ollie Byrne was sent off for a second yellow card. Alexander-Arnold rounded off the scoring as Liverpool scored two goals in two minutes as Liverpool U18s stretched their unbeaten run to four matches.
Despite the scoreline, it was Manchester United who had the best of the opening exchanges, and could’ve took the lead in the 20th minute. Zak Dearnley came in from the left wing and smashed a shot towards goal. However, his effort hit the post and the ball slowly rolled across goal with no United player there to prod home.
Paul McGuinness’ side’s run of bad luck continued six minutes later when Liverpool took the lead. A neat passing move between Ben Woodburn and Alexander-Arnold ended with the latter firing home Woodburn’s knockdown in at the near post.
After a more contested first half, Liverpool started to assert their stance on the game in the second half. Alexander-Arnold, who made his first-team debut at Swindon in August, fired his shot over the bar from close range. In the 64th minute, Alves, who joined the Reds from Portuguese side A.D Sanjoanense, doubled his side’s lead with a fine finish. The midfielder tunred Tosin Kehinde and his 25-yard effort curled into the far corner to open his account for Liverpool.
The result was far from guaranteed for the young Reds, and the had a huge wake-up call moments after. Fortunately for the visitors, Marcus Rashford’s 20 yard effort smashed off the post and was eventually cleared by the Liverpool defence. Things soon went from bad to worse for Man United, as Bryne was given his marching orders in the 76th minute. The goalkeeper, was booked in the first half for a similar foul, was given his second yellow card for a foul on Yan Dhanda.
Liverpool remained ruthless in attack and made it 3-0 from the resulting free-kick. Adam Phillips curled a free-kick towards the back post where an unmarked Whelan headed past substitute George Dorrington to further extend the Reds’ lead. Alexander-Arnold sealed all three points a minute later when his first time shot rolled into the far corner for his fifth goal of the season. Despite not getting on the scoresheet, special praise goes to Liverpool forward Woodburn, 15, who claimed three assists in a game for the second consecutive match.
The Reds leapfrog their arch-rivals and move up to fifth in the U18 Premier League table, two points off fourth-placed Sunderland with a game in hand. Neil Critchley’s side next face Stoke at the Kirkby Academy on Saturday 10 October, with kick-off at 11am.
Liverpool XI: George; Lewis, Parker, Whelan, Johnston; Coyle (Dobie 82′), Phillips; Alexander-Arnold, Alves (Dhanda 69′), Ejaria; Woodburn.
Manchester Utd XI: Bryne; Warren, Scott, Tuanzebe, Williams; Fosu-Mensah, Whelan (Dorrington 77′); Kehinde, Rashford, Gribbin; Dearnley.
By Scott Taylor